From 2011 to 2012

Well, I suppose I'm a pretty boring person.  If you really want all the gory details on my feelings about 2011, you can go to my personal/homeschooling/Paganism blog.   That particular blog is me in all my human imperfection.  :)

If you prefer the non-gory basics, here you go:

I'm very, very thankful for all the wonderful things that happened to me in 2011, especially on the writing front.  Thank you for reading my blog and my books.  You have no idea how much that means to me.  I am so grateful.

When it comes to New Year's, I don't make resolutions.  I set goals.  Usually I connect those goals to the five elements (earth, air, water, fire, and spirit).  For 2012, I'm going to be quite... well, boring and straightforward.  The goals that I have set are all related to writing and here they are: to complete four novels currently in progress and finish revisions on a fifth (said revisions are more than halfway done). 

I guess in the end, it boils down to a very simple "more of the same".  Heh.

Do you have resolutions or goals for 2012? 

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

"Enthralling"? D'aww!

I love adjectives.  Well, I love playing Mad Libs, and adjectives are my favorite part of the English language.  When somebody told me today that The Gossamer Gate (free for 4 more days) was "enthralling", I just felt all warm and fuzzy inside.  What a wonderful way to describe it!  It also pleases me to hear that people "got lost in the story".  That's the intention!

It was a mostly quiet holiday week.  On the day of our first wedding anniversary (December 23; never thought I'd celebrate a first wedding anniversary again!), my husband surprised me with flowers, a chocolate cake and a perfume I've wanted for *years* (Vera Wang's "Princess").  We spent Saturday in Cambridge, visiting the gaming shop.  The main goal was for two of our friends to buy dice, since they have been borrowing mine during D&D sessions.  However, we also left with a new D20 Modern book and they left with, not just dice, but a new board game.

Sunday was a quiet day and I got quite a bit of writing done.  On Monday, we played D&D for 10 hours.  I only lamented the loss of one day (Saturday or Monday) of work briefly, because I had so much fun in Cambridge and playing D&D.

Life happens and it can't be all about writing.  Sometimes I wish it could, but that wouldn't be much of a balance, would it?  ;)

With my son arriving on Monday, I am trying to accomplish as much as possible in the next few days.  I would rather devote the first half of 2012 to dealing with the editorial red ink (well, Word highlighting/tracking changes) on Heart & Fire and The Pain Maiden, as well as querying agents on "Project Muffin Man", than writing something new.

Of course, I will be writing during that time, but it will be a slow going.  Motherhood takes precedence and I give myself permission to take it easy.  However, I do have goals written out for 2012, and that makes accomplishing things easier.

Well, I better get to work today!  I can only count on today and Thursday as "work days", since Friday night may or may not be a D&D night, or Saturday may or may not be a D&D day.  Heh.  We have a New Year's Eve party to attend on Saturday, so Sunday may or may not turn into a D&D day.

It's all iffy and since I am *not* a spontaneous type - I like everything planned - I need to leave myself open to roll with whatever happens this coming weekend.

All in all, our holiday week was a mix of relaxing and fun.  How was your holiday week?   Do you have any New Year's plans?

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

Happy Solstice & Merry Yule!

Ah, writerly thing first!

Many thanks to everybody who is reading or has read The Gossamer Gate.  It will remain free until January 1, and you are more than welcome to share the link with anybody you know who loves faerie fantasy with a bit of romance.  Every time someone tells me they got so lost in the story that they couldn't put it down, I feel warm fuzzies.  ^.^

It looks like agents and their assistants are cleaning out their in-boxes before the holiday weekend.  In fact, it definitely looks like the going trend at the moment.  That's easy to see from reading the comments at QueryTracker.

Yes, I have received a few form rejections this week too and I certainly understand!  Out of all the careers in the world, I wonder if literary agents receive the most email...

I'm doing the same thing as them, mind you - trying to wrap up what I can before the year ends.  Mostly, it's just a look back at some genealogical brick walls and I'm performing some searches to see if there are any new results.

Since we are Pagan and celebrate the Solstice, also known as Yule, this night marks the end of the dark half of the year.  As tomorrow marks the start of the light half of the year, I feel that it is only appropriate to spend tonight doing a bit of light organizing and research.  I would like to get a good night's rest, spend tomorrow celebrating quietly at home with a ritual and opening gifts, then take a walk later in the day.

All in all, I think Monday would be a good day for a fresh start and continuation of projects (be they literary or genealogical) currently in progress. 

I would like to pass on my good wishes to all of you: Happy Solstice and a Merry Yule, and may you enjoy success in all your endeavors in the light half of the year.  ^.^

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

Holiday Happiness

Everybody gets so stressed this time of year and it's unfortunate, because - no matter what winter holiday we celebrate - we're supposed to be happy.  Right?

So I'm going to share some happy things. Let's get the writerly business out of the way first.

I'm thrilled that fantasy author E. S. Lark reviewed The Gossamer Gate (the e-book of which will available free all month, as a holiday gift; the paperback is available on Amazon).

I am *very* grateful to Emily, and to all of the readers who have shared their thoughts at GoodReads, Amazon and Smashwords.  Thank you so much for enjoying the story!  That is why I write.

We had snow this morning.  It was not much and it only fell for a little while, but walking outside just to enjoy the big, wet flakes was wonderful.

Today I am off to run my errands soon, and that includes getting a rolling pin so we can make cookies.  My husband's mom makes cookies every year, and she and the kids (my husband and his sister) decorate them.  We never did that and I always thought, "Pffft, how very Brady Bunch" of families that do.  But it is something my husband enjoys and when I tried it for the first time last year, it wasn't so bad.

It's rather funny to have a tree that is decorated from the middle, up.  But that seems to happen every time I acquire a new kitten.

Oh, I also need to pick up stocking-stuffers today for my husband.  As soon as I know precisely when my son is coming here to stay with us, I can get more gifts for the kiddo as well.  I know it will be right around New Year's, so even though I'm usually adamant about taking the tree down on January 2, it will stay up until my son has opened his gifts this year.

This is the only time of year when you can play "The Nutcracker" and other holiday music every day, and not have people look at you like you're insane.  ;)

Well, we have a Winter Solstice to celebrate in only a few days!

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

Good Music & Bad Music

Good Music: Anything that inspires you to keep writing (or perhaps cleaning or doing whatever else needs to get done), that evokes the feelings you need at any given moment, the emotion of a scene, etc.

Bad Music:  Anything that causes you to yell, "Honey!  Could you turn down the 8-bit crap?!"

My husband is quite the gamer and he especially loves retrogaming with the classics.  He is a huge fan of Mario in all his forms, from boxing match referee to gorilla-thwarting barrel-jumper to race-car driver, and everything in between.

Another aspect of Mario he loves is the music.  Yes, the music is catchy and happy...

But not very welcome when I'm working on revisions for a tense scene.

8-bit music and writing about srs bzns do not mix.  ;)

When it comes to music, I actually compile playlists for my stories.  Sometimes a playlist will run the course of the story, from start to finish - not in actual playtime, but representing the plot, the ups, the downs, big fights, and exciting, happy or unexpected endings.  It can be very easy for me to get caught up in music, particularly if it represents a heavy scene.  Music can, at times, enhance the writing experience.

Then there are times when... er... not so much.

How do you feel about music when you write?

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

"The Gossamer Gate" is free for the holidays!

The Gossamer Gate (contemporary faerie fantasy) is being offered for free throughout the holidays!   You can also snag it at Barnes & Noble or Diesel, though Smashwords has all ebook formats, as well as PDF available.  :)

If you prefer to use Amazon, I will share the link once the price drops there, though they don't seem inclined to price-match B&N any time soon.

Happy Holidays!

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

December: A Back-up Reminder

I'm cross-posting this from my genealogy blog, because it is an important reminder!

What a busy month!  With my son's birthday, my birthday (today - funny to open my Legacy file to see my age changed), the Winter Solstice (our holiday, also known as Yule), our wedding anniversary, Christmas, New Year's, and a few birthdays for friends and family scattered through the month, it can be a bit overwhelming.

One thing I really want to say is this: Back up your files.

I keep several important files on my laptop.  Well, they're important to me!  My writing, genealogy documents and database, and homeschooling documents are things I would hate to lose.

There really is no better time than the end of the year to schedule a back-up.  You've worked hard all year.  Maybe, like me, you've been a good doobie and backed up every few months (the last time I did was September).  Perhaps you're even more conscientious about that than I could ever hope to be, and you do it monthly.  Maybe you think about it, only to have it slip your mind month after month.

So I'm reminding you to either back-up your files or to mark a date in red on your calendar to do it.

Personally, I have two novels I wrote between September and now.  One has undergone a rigorous process - through alpha readers who gave feedback on the initial draft, through an amazing beta reader who critiqued the revised second draft, and then through gamma readers who found nothing problematic in the way of plot or character-development, and who basically helped perfect the manuscript by finding small proofreading errors.

That manuscript is as polished as can be after an intense few months and currently on query to literary agents.  It would destroy me to lose it because of something bad happening to my laptop.

Then, of course, there is my NaNo novel.  I would hate to lose that!

Genealogically, I have added a significant amount of source citations to my database, mostly on my husband's ancestors.  It would be terrible to lose that and have to retrace my steps.

Think about everything you have put into your computer and then back it up.  Consider it one of the best ways to make sure your new year really is happy!

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

To-Do List

Is it just me, or does the holiday season cause one's To-Do List to expand exponentially?

My To-Do List has become so long, that I did not even manage to accomplish normal Monday activities.  The bird cage did not get it's weekly scrubbing, nor did I vacuum.  My husband came home for his lunch-time nap and when I told him that I needed to clean the cage, he asked, "Can't that wait until tomorrow?"

*le sigh*

And so it did.

Yesterday was filled with completing holiday cards (call them what you will - I'm Pagan, and my family and friends are a mix of Pagan and Christian; thus, there is no one holiday celebrated and an attitude of inclusiveness is encouraged/expected).

There were also copies of The Gossamer Gate to be signed and packaged to mail to my mother, mother-in-law, and a friend.  (Just one left here... just one... Phew!)

There was a kitten to be squirted with water constantly as she tried to get into the tree, or at least knock ornaments off of it.  It amazes me that she can balance her little paws on those slender wires that stand in for branches on our brand new fake tree (this is mine and hubby's second Yule and Christmas together, and our first tree - d'awww).

There were dishes to be done, as they are done every day, bird and cat lunches to be prepared, and then - and only then - was I able to sit down and...

Oh yes, there was no sitting down, because I put together a bag full of items that need to be taken on base today - the cards and books to mail, as well as some magazines and books for the library's magazine and book-swap shelves.  There was a very, very short shopping list to write.

When I finally sat down with some lunch, it was to do a bit of Tweeting and blogging, and then to catch up by *finally* reading the novel that my fabulous "Muffin Man" beta sent my way a couple of months ago.  (It's a great story and I am sending him positive mojo for all of his creative endeavors; the moment he tells me that it is going to be published, I want to be first in line for a signed copy.)

There were Facebook messages to keep up with too, like my sister asking if I could possibly come home NOW.  She just moved from Missouri back up to Delaware.  I lived in Delaware for 10 years, and both my sister and father ultimately moved down there.  That was always the core of our family unit - dad, me and my little sister (though everybody assumes she is older than me because she has 5 children, one of whom is a teenager.  She is younger than me.  I kid you not).

Then I looked at my email and realized it was almost time to make dinner.  Seriously, where did my Monday go?  I used that last hour to look for Christmas presents for my son, since he is with his dad right now (but he returns to me in January).  Well, once I ordered two gifts from Amazon, I was ready to call it a night.

Ha!  I mentioned dinner, didn't I?  With all the options in the fridge, thanks to Sunday grocery shopping, I kept it simple - hot dogs and beans.  In New England, that is generally a Saturday thing, but it was Monday and I wanted something easy, darn it!

The husband walked in the door just as dinner was nearly done.  Perfect timing.

Mind you, all of this stuff did not move in one smooth, continuous flow of work.  My caique is out of his cage for roughly 6-7 hours a day.  That is quite a long time (even broken up into 1 1/2-3 hour segments) when you factor it into an 8 hour "work day".  There is also a kitten to supervise, since the Yule/Christmas tree is new to her.

Today should be the culmination of all the holiday preparations.  I'm about to get dressed, do dishes, prepare the pet lunches, put the caique in his cage, and run my errands.  That heavy bag of cards, books and magazines is waiting by the door.  I walk everywhere, so there's my cardio. 

When I get back, I will order gifts for my sister and her family.  Everything is going from Amazon - it makes my life easier since I live overseas.  Tonight, we will tackle gifts for my husband's mom, stepdad and sister.

After today, my holiday preparations should be *done*.  Phew!

Add emails to answer, a novella to beta, and a new genealogy challenge on top of all of that, and ask yourself where I find the time to do everything.

Thank goodness writing is my day job.

Not that I'm getting any writing done lately.  ;)

What about you - do the holidays mean less time for your normal, day-to-day tasks, or (especially if you work outside the home) busy weekends devoted to seasonal endeavors?

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

A Week Off

I actually slacked off most of last week, and I feel that it was well-deserved.  Time was spent working on genealogy, puzzles and Solstice preparations (cards, tree, decorating, making gift lists).

Sunday is probably a good time for me to get back to work.  Revisions to the project codenamed "Lemon Cake" are coming along quite well, and I am very pleased that the beta for "Muffin Man" is willing to read it for me.  In fact, I would like to bring the same readers in on this as I had for "Muffin Man".

Meanwhile, each day brings us closer to the holiday season.  My son just turned 9 today and I cannot believe he is halfway to adulthood.  Both my mother and mother-in-law have informed me that *my* birthday gifts are on their way.  No, no, no!  I don't expect gifts, so they are always a pleasant surprise.

For both my birthday and our first wedding anniversary, my husband wants to go out to eat.  I just had to say to him, "Ah, calories.  They're the gift that keeps on giving."

It seems that most of you are giving yourselves a bit of time off to recover from NaNoWriMo.  Good for you!  I finished on November 15, and definitely needed the past week to clear my mind.  Genealogical research and jigsaw puzzles do that for me.  The trick is not to allow the time away from a project diminish the magick of it.

This week has refreshed me and left me more driven than ever.  ^.^

What about you?

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan